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A Meeting, With Airport Security

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Alamy
Alamy

Today I did a presentation from the security line at the airport. Cellphone in one hand, PowerPoint deck in the other, my arm looped through the handles of my carry-on and purse. Yes, there was a child in a stroller in front of me, a crying baby a few feet away. And standing there, sweating bullets due to the unforeseen delay that had caused this precarious position, I reviewed the findings of our research with a leadership team for one of our most important clients.

Ideal? Absolutely not! Did it get the job done? Absolutely.

What about the president of the United States? Recently, the press made a big deal about him making a phone call to the Israeli prime minister rather than flying to New York City to meet with him. Some in the media suggested that a phone meeting was equal to a snub -- if he really cared about the relationship, he would have flown there in person.

Really? We haven't moved past this dialogue? Aren't we all conducting tele and video conferences instead of hopping on an airplane? Why should the standard for the president of the free world be any different?

People chat with others in restroom stalls (arguably odd, I know). And the press conducts Skype interviews with reporters in conflict zones halfway around the world.

In this day and age when we're collaborating with coworkers around the world, there are still employees in companies who can't come in late to work despite meeting with their team in China in the wee hours of the morning.

Are we still judging the value we place on our relationships based on whether we care enough to show up in person? We can't afford this formality anymore. Not in this era of shrinking travel budgets and bigger workloads.

Instead of being critical of distributed work, embrace it. Accept that there are people connecting in creative, fun, and inexpensive ways that build quality relationships and ensure efficient communication and collaboration.

But the next time you see a middle-aged woman conducting a meeting in the security line at the airport, would you take pity on her and soothe your crying kid?

October is National Work and Family Month. How are you making it easier for team members to connect?